In recent months, we have continued to take positive action for people and nature around the world. In the ocean, helping to forge a global agreement against harmful fishing practices. In Asia, supporting efforts to double wild tiger numbers in Nepal. In Europe, bringing hope for the future of endangered sturgeon species. And, in the Americas, backing a new initiative to safeguard Colombia’s precious wilderness. Everyone has a part to play – individuals, policymakers, communities, businesses and NGOs. Together, we can do it!
A new WWF-backed initiative will help to safeguard huge expanses of Colombian wilderness that both people and wildlife rely on. Heritage Colombia – or Herencia Colombia in Spanish – is a new US$245 million initiative that will help to protect 32 million hectares of land and marine areas over the next 10 years. Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity, living in wildernesses ranging from dense rainforests and glacier-tipped mountains to rolling coastal sand dunes and multi-coloured coral reefs. These are vital havens for wildlife like the iconic and threatened jaguars, harpy eagles and pink river dolphins. But they also benefit people in Colombia and around the world – providing everything from fresh water, food and livelihoods to supporting global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. So we welcome the opportunity to join the Colombian government, together with a broad coalition of community, public sector and private sector partners, in launching Heritage Colombia.
After many years of urging by WWF and others, a new global agreement will end some of the financial support for harmful fishing practices. One-third of fish populations are already being exploited beyond sustainable levels so we welcome the decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to curb certain subsidies that result in destructive overfishing practices. These practices not only threaten the future of hard-pressed species, they also degrade the resources many communities depend on and jeopardize the future of the industry they set out to support. We first urged subsidies reform in 1997 and, today, are among more than 180 organizations pushing for the removal of all harmful fisheries subsidies that drive overfishing. We believe that future approaches to fishing must emphasize fairness, sustainable development and resilience-building for both people and nature. So we urge WTO members to ensure these reforms are enacted as quickly as possible, and are pleased they have committed to continue discussions on further improvements.
We warmly welcome news that Nepal has successfully doubled its tiger population to an estimated 355 individuals – an increase of more than 190% since 2009. This success comes after longstanding efforts by many partners, including WWF, to maintain and protect key tiger habitats in the country. Nepal is one of 13 countries, where tigers still roam or have recently become extinct, who agreed in 2010 to double wild tiger numbers by 2022. Numbers had reached an all-time low due to threats such as habitat destruction and poaching so we are delighted to see WWF-backed action in Nepal and other countries paying off: a win-win for people and nature as protecting tiger habitat provides many benefits for wildlife, the climate and the billions of people who depend on these landscapes for clean air, fresh water and more. Sadly, however, historic tiger threats have not gone away and the species now likely to be extinct in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam. Our conservation efforts must therefore continue.
Two new protected areas in Bulgaria and Georgia have given a big boost to efforts to prevent sturgeons from slipping towards extinction. All 26 remaining sturgeon and paddlefish species – part of the same family – are threatened with extinction due to threats such as hydropower dams blocking their migration routes, poaching for the illegal trade in wild caviar, and habitat loss. The Bulgarian government’s decision to create the 288-hectare Esetrite - Vetren protected area, the first in the country aiming to safeguard sturgeons, comes after long-running efforts by WWF alongside fisherfolk and others who have an interest in the future of the river and its wildlife. Meanwhile, the Georgian government’s decision to protect key sturgeon habitats in a 7km-long stretch of the Rioni river is important for their future in the region. We remain strongly committed to our global sturgeon initiative, which also brings benefits to other freshwater wildlife and the many communities who depend on healthy river environments.
The Galápagos Islands, located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, are a global natural treasure. So we are delighted to be involved in a new US$117.6 million programme, funded by the Green Climate Fund, that will help the island community play its part in tackling the climate crisis and increasing resilience to its impacts. The work will include helping the islands switch to more renewable energy sources, sustainably manage about 20,000 hectares of agricultural land, and restore ecosystems in 138,000 sq km of coastal waters and 1,500 hectares of land. More than 250 green jobs should be created in the energy, agriculture, fishing and tourism sectors, generating work for nearly 5,000 others. WWF-Ecuador will work with partners to implement climate adaptation measures in the fishing sector, promote nature restoration on land and in the sea, as well as generate awareness and participation in the programme by the island community.
Many children in Myanmar are not going to school because of the challenges currently facing the country. So last year we launched an educational initiative for young people in the country’s south to help fill the gap. Many obstacles needed to be overcome but about 250 students have successfully taken part in the one-year course, called the Green Generation Club, in 10 villages in Tanintharyi Region. They’ve been getting to learn, in a fun and interesting way, about the importance of our natural world to humanity as well as look at key threats such as deforestation, water pollution, and waste and litter. Find out more about our work to support the people and nature of Myanmar.